Here are my rough notes from the developer preview of the ‘Fractured’ patch, dropping tomorrow, November 26. I'm hopeful that the new content and changes to the existing Fractals of the Mists system will reinvigorate the community around them; I’ll definitely be in there trying to get my level up tomorrow evening.
The return of the Molten Facility and the Aetherblade Retreat pave the way for much–loved Living Story content to have its lifespan extended, which is definitely a good thing. Eventually, I foresee some of the original instances being retired (I’m looking at you, Dredge fractal) to make room, which would help to keep things fresh and interesting. Let me know what you think, and I hope to see you in there!
Aetherblade shown first. Rotation changed to include easier fractals first. Aetherblade one of the harder instances. New icon: mistlock instability. “Last Laugh” - enemies explode when killed. New traps. Elite level mobs. Electried floor changed to be a pattern instead of “wait and go”. Mai Trin is a boss fractal. Easier in level 1, old difficulty around level 20. Past that, harder. Fight changed to reduce lengthy phases. Both Aetherblade and Thaumanova are “third” level instances. Molten is second.
Level reset is due to rebalancing. New content from 30 to 50. Didn't feel right for people to be at level 50 already. Tied in with leaderboards and a new “race to the top”. 50+ is currently not possible until new instabilities are added. Each level after 30 has its own instability. Instabilities start at 31 and go to 50 and are unique to each level. Leaderboard ranks are currently “first come first served”. They’ll see how that works as they add more fractal levels.
Daily reward given every 10 levels. No specifics given over the amount of gold given in each level bracket. Living World rewards are not found in these new fractals. No information on whether or not those will ever come back again. Better chance for fractal weapons. Higher levels drop boxes with weapons which let you choose the stats. Gold reward is more inline with dungeons, and scales with fractal difficulty level.
Looking into long–term uses for fractals currencies (pristine relics, etc). Most likely extending rewards on the token vendors. Crafting materials, different gear. No current plans for fractal rings. Considering salvaging as an option but no solid plans.
New slot type on ascended gear: agony resist. New agony resist infusions go into the new slots. Nothing will change with existing agony. You’ll login with the same amount that you had before the patch. You can combine any two alike infusions to upgrade them. Infinite scaling, but takes longer and longer to increase.
No reset buttons being added, but some bugs have been fixed, e.g. the Cliffside fractal being harder if partially completed and then revisited.
No fractal armour yet, but ascended armour will be dropped into fractals once it’s in the game. Fractal weapons are now skins instead of items, i.e. no transmute stone needed. No new weapons in this release, but the tonic, runes and sigils are now in there. The runes and sigils don't actually drop, just the recipes, and they can be sold on the trading post once crafted.
This is technically a Living Story release because it’s Ellen Kiel making good on her promise to provide the Thaumanova Reactor fractal instance. It’s the only one with a story mode. Captain Frizz is the final boss.
Unlikely to ever have waypoints in fractals, since there are checkpoints. There's definitely precedent for reimagining lore events using fractals. They’ve made some backend changes which will make it easier to add new fractals in the future.
There are new achievments for the new instances, as well as some Living Story achievements for a limited time, with their own meta.
Agony has been changed so that it no longer applies to anything that isn’t a player, meaning that ranger pets, engineer turrets, and necromancer minions are finally safe. Fractal levels are now account–bound. Fractal titles “would be awesome” and could well be added in the future. Because of the new ordering you’re unlikely to get Cliffside and Dredge next to each other. Molten Berserker and Molten Firestorm have had their health slightly reduced, but it’s still plenty hard at level 39.
Thaumanova Reactor looks Asuran in parts, but has new art work. This instance will change in different level brackets, and is unique in that aspect. “Lots of cool mechanics and lots of fun stuff to see”, but we have to wait until tomorrow!